It can make you feel nostalgic or set the mood for an extra romantic evening, but music has a much more powerful effect on you than just being a behind-the-scenes soundtrack. It can change the way you’re feeling, can change your entire workout, and can even make you more creative.
“There’s something about music and engaging in musical activities that appear to be very stimulating for the brain and body,” neuroscientist Dr. Petr Janata of the University of California, Davis, tells News in Health. “It’s a way of synchronizing groups of people and engaging in a common activity that everyone can do at the same time.”
But it’s so much more than just a way to inject some life into a party. If you’re looking to turn up the jams and add to your playlist, keep these effects in mind as to how the music will change your brain and body:
If you’ve ever studied or worked with instrumental-only music in the background, you know that ambient noise can be an effective way to keep your brain going. Turns out it can make you more creative, too.
In a 2012 study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, a low to moderate sound can get your creative juices flowing, as long as its somewhat ambient and fades into the background to give you enough brain space and focus on the task at hand. According to the study, the ambient music actually forces your brain to be more creative in the prioritized project because it somewhat distracts your focus and processing. The same does not work with high volume music and sounds, so as long as you keep it at a medium sound level, you’ll see the benefits.
You’re halfway through a multi-mile run and you’re on the brink of giving up. But then the song changes and the beat begins and you can’t help but pick up the pace and continue on the trail, hitting, or even exceeding, your target mile time. That’s no coincidence.
Incorporating music into your workout can seriously increase your energy levels and bust out the “I’m too tired to keep going” plateau you’ve hit.
According to New Scientist, music during a workout actually acts as a painkiller, keeping you from noticing the aches and cramps you’re experiencing, essentially helping you push past the limit you’ve set for yourself. That might just be why hospitals play ambient music throughout the space to help calm and relax their patients (more on that next!).
A 2004 study proved what we may have hypothesized for years: People who listen to music have lower anxiety levels, as well as decreased blood pressure when they’re faced with high-stress situations. Looking at patients who were about to undergo surgery, doctors and nurses played them music throughout their hospital stay, as a part of this study. When they checked their blood pressure, they found that people who had music played in their pre-surgery rooms came into the operating room with far lower blood pressure. The incredible power of music strikes again!
It’s no shocker that SoulCycle changes up the rhythm and BPM (beats per minute) of the music it uses throughout the ride. It’s all meant to make your pace either slower or faster, depending on its place in the workout. And there’s a good reason for it.
In a 2010 study, researchers proved that “healthy individuals performing submaximal exercise not only worked harder with faster music but also chose to do so and enjoyed the music more when it was played at a faster tempo.”
Increasing the tempo on the tunes you’re blasting throughout your workout means that you’ll not only work faster and harder, but you’ll also be more in-tune (and on-tempo) with the rest of the group around you.
“What’s your favorite song?” or “who’s your favorite artist?” seem like typical first-date questions you might bust out to get to know your potential new partner even closer. And that’s no surprise, scientists prove. The kind of music you listen to, and the types of songs your potential partners choose, determines your physical attraction.
“Why then do we use music as a first port of call in getting to know another person? We probably think that music is indirectly telling us something about the other person’s personality,” researchers write in a 2006 study on the relationship of music and personality perception.
Turn on the classical music for your newborn and enjoy the mental and reasoning benefits they’ll see in later years, one 2008 study suggests. “Children who had received instrumental music training for three years or more outperformed their control counterparts in areas closely related to music,” such as fine motor skills, researchers show.
Setting up a child with a musical instrument can be even more beneficial, as the skills needed to master an instrument can lead not only to improved reasoning, but also better vocabulary, and even reading visual information more efficiently.